Italy Part I: Errors in the Alps


Cycling in Italy is one of those dreamy types of things that I never really thought I would get an opportunity to do.  I especially never thought I would experience cycling in the Dolomites, or the Italian Alps -in large part because I never imagined I would be fit enough to drag me and loaded bicycle up mountains.


Okay…so if I thought the cycle paths were impressive in other countries, Italy blew those away.  Not only are there cycle routes, most are dedicated paths separate from roads, and roll along rivers and through woods, etc.  Bicycle tourism is a big deal in Italy (at least where I was) as evidenced by cafes and accommodations all along the routes.  

The ride from Lientz, Austria across the Italian border was good except I made a major error not eatting. I did not realize the border was as far as it was. I only had yogurt and plums for breakfast….and I bonked after a few hours! Totally! I just ran out of energy…but thankfully, because I was on this major cycling route, I came upon an oasis cafe! I ate a big wonderful sausage sandwich of sorts and a coffee, and carried on. It helped. I cycled all day along the dedicated bicycle routes with an endless stream of cyclists coming at me…hundreds for sure. The volume made it rather non-peaceful for me actually, as I like to at least smile to people passing. It was hot and sunny, and I was on a rolling gradual climb all all day. I would have stopped earlier than I did, but I missed a campground. My twisted gps took me to one at the top of a 5k climb, but it was so worth it!


I did not realize at the time that this would be my only exposure to the Dolomites. I thought I would be cycling in them throughout Italy. The campground was set on Lago Dubiacco and offered breathtaking views of the Dolomites. Finally, a place for more art. I immediately planned to stay two nights despite the expense -at $18 Eu- the most expensive campground of my trip, but hands down, the most beautiful. Thank goodness I had stopped at grocery store a little ways back, so at least I could make my meals. Other touring cyclists were in my camp. I hung with a nice German fellow who works for at school and home for troubled youth. It sounded a lot like an organization I once worked for but way better financed -300 kids, plus 300 staff, with 60 that live at the school all sorts of programs for the kids.  All the cyclists took off in the morning, and I enjoyed a good writing day, and did some art by the lake.  


The next day was a total crap riding day for Steel and I!  It started well enough with an easy 50K downhill ride to Bruneko (IT), but then I made the error of veering from the cycle path in an attempt to avoid an obvious hill, only to ironically ended up cycling up a flipping mountain pass on a main road with tunnels with no sidewalks. I carried on for 11 kilometers before I was informed of the errors of my ways. Nothing worse than going backwards, but I did –fortunately downhill this time.  Unbelievably, I got turned around again! Without exaggeration, I did three tours of Bruneco, a hilly little town.  I twice missed the correct cycle route and attempted to follow my evil gps (we definitely have a love hate thing going on). Let’s face it, when I’m tired, my brain starts malfunctioning.  I am prone to make bad decisions.  Exhausted from the sun and hills, and on the brink of tears for the first time on my trip, I wandered upon some folks setting up for a music festival and they pointed me to a campground near Brixon. It was only 6:30 pm when I rolled in , but I was sooooo done. Although a very basic campground, the friendly staff served up my favorite pasta meal on the trip thus far.  I enjoyed some sort of local pasta from South Tirol covered in a tasty cream sauce with a hint of bacon, and the largest $2 Eu wine (a small was like 2 large glasses of wine).  I was asleep early, and up and out early…ready to try my new strategy!

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